Topography & Design: Class Logo | Skillshare Projects

John Coleman

Designer | Illustrator



Topography & Design: Class Logo

When I had the idea to create this class, I decided it would only make sense to apply the purpose of the class and display that upfront - that topography works really well in design - so I incorporated topography in to the class logo. The first thing I did (which you should always do) is take out pencil and paper and start sketching what I was seeing in my head. I was actually at a meeting when I was thinking about all this, so I busted out my little 3x5” notebook I always carry around with me and started some rough sketches - it’s funny because the end logo looks really similar to the original rough sketch, seen here:


The next thing to do was to figure out how to get the best topo area inside of the logo, so I went to my favorite topo map website ( and found a great spot like we talked about in Video #3 - Design Implications: What to Look For. I needed something that wouldn’t be too busy for my logo and complicate things, but something that was clearly a topographical map that would communicate what the class was about - so this is the area I decided to go with:


After finding my topographical region, I went to my drawing desk with some tracing paper and loosely sketched what I was seeing for my topo area, creating my own, original topographical design. I took artistic liberty, moving some contour lines here and there, or taking out extraneous information so that my final sketch looked like this:


So, I scanned the drawing on the right into the computer and brought it into Adobe Illustrator. I took out my pen tool and went to town! I got all the curves and lines just like I wanted them, even adding my own trail right through the middle. After a podcast or two, I was done ready to incorporate my topo design into my logo:


After vectorizing, the topo part is basically done - I just needed to figure out how it should belong in my logo. Here you will see some of the iterations I went through to get to the final one:


At the end, here’s what we’ve got! I decided to go with a heavy Futura Std, it just adds to the topo feel for this logo - and I needed something bold so it could be seen on the Skillshare classes page. I made little anchor/handle icons at the North/South/East/West markers to further signify that this a vector class. And, that’s about it - cleaned it up and it’s ready to see the world!



Please sign in or sign up to comment.